According to an article published in the American Journal of Public Health, women who have more children are more likely to have missing teeth.

"This is the first time we’ve seen a connection between pregnancy and tooth loss affecting women at all socioeconomic levels in a large, heterogeneous sample of the US population," said Stefanie Russell, MD, assistant professor of epidemiology and health promotion.

The study, which was conducted at New York University, included 2,635 non-Hispanic women ages 18 to 64 who reported at least one pregnancy in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, a representative study of the US population.

Profound biological and behavioral changes related to pregnancy and childbirth are likely to be a factor in tooth loss, according to Russell. The study found that:

• Pregnancy can make women prone to gingivitis, and repeated pregnancies are likely to result in more frequent outbreaks of gingivitis that may lead to tooth loss in women with periodontitis;

• a woman may postpone seeking dental treatment because of financial concerns related to having children; and

• caring for more children may lead a mother to cut back on the time she devotes to her own oral health.

"Although further research is needed on the specific reasons for the link between pregnancy and tooth loss, it is clear that women with multiple children need to be especially vigilant about their oral health," Russell said.